Image Simulation and Assessment of the Colour and Spatial Capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

Livio L. Tornabene, Frank P. Seelos, Antoine Pommerol, Nicholas Thomas, C. M. Caudill, Patricio Becerra, John C. Bridges, Shane Byrne, Marco Cardinale, Matthew Chojnacki, Susan J. Conway, Gabriele Cremonese, Colin M. Dundas, M. R. El-Maarry, Jennifer Fernando, Candice J. Hansen, Kayle Hansen, Tanya N. Harrison, Rachel Henson, Lucia MarinangeliAlfred S. McEwen, Maurizio Pajola, Sarah S. Sutton, James J. Wray

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study aims to assess the spatial and visible/near-infrared (VNIR) colour/spectral capabilities of the 4-band Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) aboard the ExoMars 2016 Trace Grace Orbiter (TGO). The instrument response functions for the CaSSIS imager was used to resample spectral libraries, modelled spectra and to construct spectrally (i.e., in I/F space) and spatially consistent simulated CaSSIS image cubes of various key sites of interest and for ongoing scientific investigations on Mars. Coordinated datasets from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) are ideal, and specifically used for simulating CaSSIS. The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) provides colour information, while the Context Imager (CTX), and in a few cases the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), provides the complementary spatial information at the resampled CaSSIS unbinned/unsummed pixel resolution (4.6 m/pixel from a 400-km altitude). The methodology used herein employs a Gram-Schmidt spectral sharpening algorithm to combine the ∼18–36 m/pixel CRISM-derived CaSSIS colours with I/F images primarily derived from oversampled CTX images. One hundred and eighty-one simulated CaSSIS 4-colour image cubes (at 18–36 m/pixel) were generated (including one of Phobos) based on CRISM data. From these, thirty-three “fully”-simulated image cubes of thirty unique locations on Mars (i.e., with 4 colour bands at 4.6 m/pixel) were made. All simulated image cubes were used to test both the colour capabilities of CaSSIS by producing standard colour RGB images, colour band ratio composites (CBRCs) and spectral parameters. Simulated CaSSIS CBRCs demonstrated that CaSSIS will be able to readily isolate signatures related to ferrous (Fe2+) iron- and ferric (Fe3+) iron-bearing deposits on the surface of Mars, ices and atmospheric phenomena. Despite the lower spatial resolution of CaSSIS when compared to HiRISE, the results of this work demonstrate that CaSSIS will not only compliment HiRISE-scale studies of various geological and seasonal phenomena, it will also enhance them by providing additional colour and geologic context through its wider and longer full-colour coverage (∼ 9.4 × 50 km), and its increased sensitivity to iron-bearing materials from its two IR bands (RED and NIR). In a few examples, subtle surface changes that were not easily detected by HiRISE were identified in the simulated CaSSIS images. This study also demonstrates the utility of the Gram-Schmidt spectral pan-sharpening technique to extend VNIR colour/spectral capabilities from a lower spatial resolution colour/spectral dataset to a single-band or panchromatic image greyscale image with higher resolution. These higher resolution colour products (simulated CaSSIS or otherwise) are useful as means to extend both geologic context and mapping of datasets with coarser spatial resolutions. The results of this study indicate that the TGO mission objectives, as well as the instrument-specific mission objectives, will be achievable with CaSSIS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Band ratios
  • Image processing
  • Mars
  • Mars, change detection
  • Mars, climate
  • Mars, geology
  • Mars, landing sites
  • Mars, surface processes
  • Multispectral imaging
  • Pan-sharpening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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